Upbeat Songs for Downbeat Times

I thought it might be fun to write about five upbeat songs that have kept me going this crazy year. Some old, some new and some unexpected surprises in here!

Let’s start with unexpected. I’ve really been enjoying watching the 1989 episodes of the weekly British music pop show Top of the Pops on BBC 4. I guess 1989 was one of those years for me where emotions were out of control – my parents’ divorce followed by the best summer of my childhood having fun in a 5 star swanky hotel in Florida, then my brother starting to lose his mind and finally just finding salvation and hope in pop music. So the music that year on the show seemed to reflect that (the cure “lovesick”, Debbie Gibson “we could be together”, Bros “too much”). In 1989 I kept a diary where every week I would write down the top 10 singles. Anyway this Top of the Pops performance of a Kirsty Maccoll song I haven’t heard probably since 1989. I found myself singing it to get my daughter to sleep at night, and have a chance to reflect and appreciate things lost. Perfect for lockdown

 

Another surprise was this jaw-dropping new Bob Dylan record which appeared suddenly a couple of months ago. I read the 5 star reviews, and finally picked it up in a department store while I was over in Germany. I’ve been playing this most nights, it fits perfectly with a slow burning candle and a glass or two of wine. Good old Bob, still poetic and edgy at 79.

 

I have been looking forward to new music from the Dixie Chicks (now just called the Chicks) since it was announced earlier this year, but I had no idea it was going to be this good. I’ve only heard the two singles so far, and both just knock me out. The protest anger of March March sets the tone perfectly for standing up for truth and freedom in this mad world, but I like “Gaslighter” slightly more maybe because it’s all about a divorce!

 

Another band who finally have a new album out is none other than Bright Eyes. I’ve been obsessed by Conor Obest since I first picked up a 7 inch record in the now sadly-missed Virgin Megastore in Norwich, UK. I don’t think anything he’s done has topped 2016’s “breakdown” album Ruminations, but I’m excited to hear the new Bright Eyes stuff when it’s released later this year. I really like this hpynotic video for this song “Mariana Trench”

 

Finally…hard to choose – but I’m going for Tom Petty, and “You Don’t Know How it
Feels” taken from his best album (wildflowers). It’s just sets the tone for the day. I tend to stick it on first thing when I’m folding laundry. Every morning more laundry. Once done I can escape with the kids for adventures outdoors. That’s how we roll with three crazy wild forest children all under five years old addicted to fun and Tom tells it how it is.

Days of war nights of love

Eight months have gone by now, last time I wrote it was Zwischenzeit …a time of in-betweens….now, it seems to never end, uncertainty, My life is stable, but Brexit bores are everywhere I look. I meet someone who seems kind and caring, then they say something dumb like”Oh the sooner we leave Europe the better!” and I just smile and think you are fucking nuts.  Newspaper articles confuse me, so I turn to home life, to snapshot this peaceful view from my bedroom window where I can hide away from life. I listen to music, I read books and I make long telephone calls. Away from politics there’s much to do, like making food for my family (now I mostly skip the analysis I find all sorts of fun things in the newspaper to enrich my life, like the recipe of the day!)

I still believe. I still read adbusters, I still want to break down falsehood and lies and hysteria and all the things that disrupt a life lived less ordinary. I still pray and read the bible, and I still look for meaning. I saw a book yesterday, funnily enough it was after we met my capitalist father for coffee, and this little book was called “Not working why we have to stop working”. At that point my 2 year old daughter starting crazily running around and throwing books around so I couldn’t investigate further. Still I love the title.

Moment of joy >>>> taking the train to London, having the most perfect cappuccino I’ve ever tasted at a little Italian cafe but having to drink it at super speed as it took them 10 minutes to prepare this perfection. So I guess it seemed rude that we drank it in under 1 minute because we had to get to the theatre to see “Home, I’m darling” which was about as enjoyable as a play can possibly be!

Music I’ve finally picked up a Mark Kozelek album I’ve been meaning to buy for months, it’s heavy but enjoyable. I listen an awful lot to the wonderful Tom Petty boxset, and I’m loving the Norah Jones interview in Mojo magazine.

I’m going to write more, much more. It’s how I figure out meaning in this crazy lost but enriching and beautiful world we share.

things are changing

i had to escape. I moved far away, to a very old house down a little lane, where there are no cars, and not many people either. I live here where when you wake up, and it’s snowing outside, there’s no button to press for heating, you’ve got to go outside and gather some logs to make a fire to keep your family warm. It’s so quiet here, it’s a cottage lost in time. A place where you heat the water with coal, and a beautiful area where I’ve got a job at the little rural school across the fields.

It’s not a place to hide away and accept loss, and to cry about things gone wrong, it’s a place to re-connect with the world around you, and to be creative and to fight for believe in life and in love.

I feel home here. It’s where I’m suppose to be, hidden in a country cottage reading newspapers, writing poems, listening to music and embracing life for what it is, not to call it harsh or hard, but to accept the beauty of a single day. Walking home from work, I’ve never seen such epic stars above me which illuminate life. I have no choice but to look up and lose myself in the wonder of it all and marvel at Creation and Gods love for all of us.

Then there is music. I can’t get by without it anymore. We drove into the city today, for I still love the pulse of  electricity around me, and I picked up these albums.